Xbox Series X frame rate in question as Microsoft passes the buck to developers

Halo Infinite (2020) (Image credit: Xbox)

Confusion reigns about what frame rates gamers can actually expect on the next-gen Xbox Series X console when it releases later this year – and the answer may disappoint you.

We've heard much about the high-end capabilities of the hardware in the past few months, with talk of a benchmark of 4K/60fps gameplay and a new upper ceiling of 4K/120fps – or even a very unlikely 8K/60fps.

But new information concerning one of the first flagship Xbox Series X games has put that into question, with Ubisoft only able to promise 30fps gameplay for its upcoming title, Assassin's Creed Valhalla, which will come to both Xbox One X and its next-gen successor.

Speaking to The Verge's Tom Warren, Microsoft seemingly confirmed that the 60fps standard wouldn't necessarily be common across Xbox Series X games, stating that, “Ultimately, it is up to individual developers to determine how they leverage the power and speed of Xbox Series X.”

General Manager at Aaron Greenberg responded in a tweet of his own, adding that higher frame rates were in reach of devs, but wouldn't necessarily be taken advantage of.

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It's not all bad news, though, as signs still point to Microsoft's first-party Halo Infinite running at the higher 60fps benchmark, with a job listing for a Lead Graphics Developer at 343 Industries specifically citing "stunning 60 Hz 4k graphics." For third-party games, though, even franchises as massive as Assassin's Creed, it appears to be a different story for now.

Things stay the same

We've talked about our disappointment regarding Assassin's Creed Valhalla's low bar, and how it pales in comparison to the kinds of frame rates that PC gamers have been able to enjoy for years now.

This confirmation from Microsoft, though, really hits home that the specs being used to sell a next-gen console to us aren't going to be widely in use from the off. We'd expect to see more of this further down the console generation, as devs get more confident with the new tools available to them – and we probably shouldn't look to a cross-gen game like Valhalla as a showcase for everything a next-gen console can go.

But the question of when (and if) to upgrade to the Xbox Series X – or, presumably, the PS5 – gets a lot murkier when the higher frame rates these consoles are technically capable of won't be realistically achieved for a good while yet.

Henry St Leger

Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.